Catherine Morland’s Reading List: The Night Gardener

What is Catherine Morland’s Reading ListThe idea came mostly from the fact that I am a huge Gothic fiction/mystery fan. Before I met Jane Austen I devoured books, (and I still do), that I know, if Catherine Morland was real and alive, she would be reading or interested in reading.

It started with one review, and then before I knew it I had a list of thirty I was planning on reviewing. What can I say, other than:

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

So I have been wanting to read this book FOREVER. But every time I would check it out, I wouldn’t get a chance-I’d have too many books checked out, things happened, I’m too busy, etc-and I would have to return it.

Finally the stars aligned and I was able to read it. The book is written for middle schoolers and a quick read-made even quicker by the fact that as soon as I started reading it, it sucked me in.

I can’t put the book down

The book takes place during the Irish Potato Famine and two siblings emigrate from Ireland to England to work at a country estate: Kip and Molly. Molly is older and made the arrangements to work, job they are in dire need of as their parents are dead (something Molly has kept hidden from Kip). Molly uses stories to distract and cheer Kip, who is gifted with a green thumb, but suffers from lame leg.

As they travel to the Windsor manor they get stopped by a gypsy fortune teller who tells them the house they are going to is haunted.

Yes, years ago when the current Master Windsor was a boy something killed his family, he was the only one to survive, escaping to family in London. It was very mysterious and strange, and many believe it to be ghosts, a monster, or something.

Kip starts wondering if there is truth to the tales, but Molly ignores it. It can’t be true, she needs it to be not be true as they need these jobs.

Please, oh please! from Death Comes to Pemberley

When they get there, the house is nothing like Molly thought it would be. The house is beautiful but dirty and not kept up at all-things look like they haven’t been washed in forever, there is dust and dirt everywhere, etc.

Haunted house!

There is also a giant, black, gnarled, tree that is connected to the house, as if it grew into it or the house was built into the tree. Looking at it, it makes both Molly and Kip uncomfortable-although they are not sure why.

The family is very unusual, cold, and greedy. Mr. Windsor stutters, has no gumption, and is a pale dark haired man who is constantly trying to get money. He has a secret study that no one is allowed to enter. Constance is cold and harsh toward the “help” as she calls them, in fact she won’t let Kip in the house as her family might catch what he has and become cripples too (her word). She was used to the fine life in London and misses it. She has a ton of rings on her fingers and always seems to be getting more somehow. Very odd as the Windsor family complains about a lack of funds.

Hmm…

The son Alistair is greedy boy who is always eating candy and is cruel to his sister. But where does he get this candy from. He has dark hair like his father and mother.

Penny is the youngest and is greedy for stories and attention, but otherwise is a good child. She is enthralled with Molly’s copper hair, something she used to have. Molly thinks that is odd, even more so when she sees a portrait of them on the wall-all with bright skin, bright colored hair-nothing like the dour, dark haired, and ghostly pale skin they have now.

Hmm…

Kip starts working in the yard and loves growing things, but still feels unease about that tree. But there are things down in the yard he did not do. Things planted. But who could be doing that?

Hmm…

The longer they stay there the harder it is to leave. At night they have bad dreams and hear something stalking in the night. Penny tells Molly of a night man in the house clomping through and going outside. Molly doesn’t believe her…at first, but then one night, she is sneaking her brother into the house and the two see a man-a ghostly, creepy, scary man who works on the yard but espechially with the dark and disturbing tree.

Creepy…

Then Molly discovers a secret. The tree in the house grants you a wish of your heart-but once given it is impossible to stop going back. Constance Windsor had a ring that was worth nothing, but given before Mr. Windsor made money. He sold it when they needed funds and the tree gave her a copy, and she can’t stop trying to get it back.

Alistair’s favorite memory was when his father and him spent the day together and went to a candy store. He can’t stop getting or eating candy, trying to relive the memory. Penny has special books that are stories about her. For Molly she gets letters from her parents, letters that tell of the same stories she has been feeding her brother.

Wow!

But Molly quickly learns to be careful for what you wish for as the price might be more than you want to pay. She too finds herself becoming bound to the tree, her copper hair and imaginative self being sucked away as she waits for more letters. Will Molly and Kip be able to save themselves and the Windsor family? Or will they meet their end?

Hmmm…

I LOVED this book. It was so spooky and reminded me of other Gothic tales I grew up reading. I espechially loved the imagery of the tree feeding on them, stealing their souls essentially, taking from them and they know it is feeding off them-but they can’t stop it.

Creepy…

It was extremely spooky and creepy-just how I like it.

For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Secrets of the Heart

For more Gothic Fiction, go to House of Salt and Sorrows

Horrorfest VIII: Strange Tales of Terror

It’s that time of the year again!

It is time for Horrorfest VIII!

HORRORFEST!!!!!!

31 Days of horror, suspense, mystery, gothic tales, Alfred Hitchcock, psycho killers, ghosts, murder, dystopian futures, monsters, and more!

I love film and here’s my chance to share it with you all.

A couple years ago I put Jane Austen in a costume and added it to my Horrorfest traditions. This year I choose to dress her up in a skull mask for Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos. As you know I’m Latino and that is a part of the way people celebrate those who have passed on. This year both my grandmother died in the beginning of the year, while one of my best friends died last month. While I can’t paint my face, my skin allergies, I can honor them in this way. Along with Jane!

Well, I hope you enjoy this year’s picks!

To start Horrorfest from the beginning, go to I Don’t Belong in the World: Carnival of Souls (1962)

To start Horrorfest II from the beginning, go to There Are Many Strange Legends in the Amazon: The Creature From The Black Lagoon (1954)

To start Horrorfest III from the beginning, go to Even a Man Pure of Heart: The Wolf Man (1941)

To start Horrorfest IV from the beginning, go to You Cannot Conquer It. It has Conquered You!: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

To start Horrorfest V from the beginning, go to Who You Gonna Call?: Ghostbusters (1984)

To start Horrorfest VI from the beginning, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

Once, There Was Even a Man Who Had Scissors for Hands: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

So every year we review a Vincent Price film. Here we go!

Once, there was even a man who had scissors for hands

What?

Yes I said that right, Vincent Price.

Many of you may not know this, but this was Vincent Price’s last film. When I first saw this, I actually knew about Vincent Price than Johnny Depp.

In fact Vincent Price was supposed to have more screentime, but unfortunately was very ill at and they had to cut back on those scenes. Sad for us.

We didn’t get as much

This also fills another yearly notch, a Tim Burton film.

I have always loved Edward Scissorhands

So let’s not wait any longer. On with the review.

So the film starts off with a grandma, Kim Boggs (Winona Ryder) telling her granddaughter a story-of a man with scissors for hands.

Flashback years ago-Peg Boggs is the Avon lady, along with being kindest and sweetest woman ever. She tries to sell in her Suburban neighborhood but none are interested.

She’s finally reached the end of her rope-but then spots the creepy, spooky castle that exists at the end of the block. She decides to go in there and that is when everything changes.

Inside the worn and crumbling mansion-which she enters by herself! Very unsafe-and meets Edward.

Edward was created by the Inventor, but is unfinished-he still has scissors for hands.

Peg feels bad for him and takes him home with her-he meets her husband Bill (Alan Arkin), who is completely checked out and doesn’t see or hear anything, and son Kevin. Kevin is fascinated by Edward and wants to show him off.

That’s awesome

As many times as I have watched this I am just amazed with the character of Peg. She reminds me of the mom in My Boyfriend’s Back, but sweeter, kinder, and not nearly as psychotic. She is always encouraging and helping Edward.

Peg Boggs: Are you alone? Do you live up here all by yourself? What happened to your face? No, I won’t hurt you. But at the very least, let me give you a good astringent. And this will help to prevent infection. What’s your name?

Edward: Edward.

Peg Boggs: Edward… I think you should just come home with me.

And if anyone tries to say anything about him, she will go mama bear on them.

Audience Member #3: But if you had regular hands you’d be like everyone else.

Edward: Yes, I know.

Host-TV: I think he’d like that.

Audience Member #4: Then no one would think you’re special. You wouldn’t be on TV or anything.

Peg Boggs: No matter what, Edward will always be special.

So Pegg let’s Edward stay in her daughter’s room while she is camping with friends on her waterbed. Really Peg, he has scissors for hands!

Anyways, the neighbors are fascinated and want to take a look at him, forcing themselves on them with a BBQ.

Edward starts trying to get used to living with people. If you carefully watch Edward in the beginning he is moving his hands all over-but as he watches the others and as the movie progresses learns to better control his hands and be more humanlike.

And I do have to say I like the costume of Edward. I like Buster Keaton look carrying over from Benny & Joon and his Cure/Tim Burton-inspired hair. It wouldn’t always work, but it does on him.

So Edward is a hit, especially after he starts creating colorful topiaries.

Kim returns home from her trip in the mountains with her boyfriend Jim (Anthony Michael Hall). The first time I saw this-I didn’t recognize him. I don’t what he did but he went from major nerd in the ’80s to playing football jocks in the ’90s. I  always think if him as being one of the lucky three who were able to go from “nerd” to “heartthrob”-him, John Cusack, and Patrick Dempsey.

Kim returns home after “camping” and goes to her room-only to find Edward. Proof why scissors and waterbeds don’t work out.

From lawns Edward goes into animal haircuts.

And here he becomes an even bigger sensation. But not everyone loves him.

Poor Edward-hopefully in love with Kim and he really is. At this time Depp and Ryder starting dating and even got engaged-and you can just see in his eyes how much he cares for her. In fact, re-watching it this time I realize they spend hardly any screentime together, but can carry the romance in their looks, body language, tone, etc.

Here is where we get a slight look into Tim Burton. The eccentric, weird kid in love with the cheerleader but the jock keeping them apart? Hmm…

Anyways, Edward keeps trying. Kevin takes him to school for show-and-tell, he is always there to lend a blade, and then begins haircuts.

Edward Scissorhands in Wonderland

In fact the scene when he first cuts hair is a wink at Sweeney Todd, which Tim Burton and Johnny Depp would make years later.

The sweetest thing is when Edward is going to cut Peg’s hair-he makes it extra special and neat for her-his mom. Aw.

Very cute

With all this Edward goes on TV and the idea of opening his own business is brought up.

Neighbor Joyce is going to help and takes him to the area where they will be having the salon. She then strips and assaults him. Edward flees and Joyce is very upset.

I’m out!

Peg is going to help Edward and takes him to the bank-but here is where I realize I am an adult. I mean I know I am one, after all I’m six and twenty-but here is where I KNOW. My first response was how will he get a loan? He has no social security card, birth certificate, anything. Poor Edward is sad and they are unsure what to do next.

Now let me take a moment here and just go over Vincent Price’s role in the film. Throughout the movie we have flashbacks to when Edward was first created. The Inventor (Vincent Price) has an assembly line making cookies. As he enjoys them he gets the idea to make his son-Edward.

I love these scenes as they are so endearing and said. What would have been if the creator lived. I love Vincent Price’s voice as well. I could just listen to him speak for hours.

One day Kim forgets her key and they are locked out of the house. Edward opens the door by picking the lock and Jim gets the idea to use Edward to rob his house. You see JIm is a Neanderthal that instead of getting a job to get his own car wants his dad to do it. And if dad refuses-well then the only way is to rob his house. What a baby-WAH BOO HOO I can’t get my way let’s make dad pay for it.

They lie to Edward that a guy stole Jim’s stuff and want to get it back. Kim feels bad and wants to stop, but they don’t listen to her. Instead-they go but when the alarm goes off abandon him.

Kim is angry wanting to go back, but they don’t listen to her and she doesn’t do anything. Now I like Kim, but she never tells the truth. It makes me so angry-all this awful things keep happening to Edward afterwards and they could have stopped it if she had just told the truth.

Very disappointed in you Kim.

So Edward is taken to jail and held until Peg and Bill can pick him up. After that he is a pariah. No one wants to be around him, have him cut their lawn, dog, or hair.

Kim gets angry with Jim, but he just taunts her with how she hasn’t said anything. Edward sees this and becomes even more angry as he did it for Kim and she is still with the jerk.

He gets depressed and ruins his creations-he also gets angsty and messes up the walls.

Peg is awesome-she continues to be there for Edward. She has him keep giving her haircuts to make him feel better. Se sweet.

So cute

All comes to a head on Christmas. Edward and Kim have grown closer. He works on an ice sculpture and accidentally nicks Kim. Jim comes and chases Edward off who goes on a rage destroying shrubbery.

Kim is done with Jim and he storms off drinking with his friend.

Kim’s hand is taken care of by her mom and it wasn’t a serious wound just a small one. They worry about Edward and go off to find him leaving Kim to wait in case he comes back or the neighbors come for the party.

Edward returns and they have a good moment, broken when a drunken Jim comes racing down the street and almost hits Kevin. Edward runs and pushes Kevin out of the way before he gets killed. But by doing so nicks Kevin, especially as Kevin doesn’t know what is going on.

Jim comes and tries to attack Edward, who nicks him too. Edward then storms off-followed by Kim. Meanwhile like in every monster movie the neighborhood storms together creating a mob to converge on Edward.

mob

Grab your torches and sharpen your pitchforks!

In the mansion Kim approaches Edward, ecstatic that he is alive, but just like in Beauty and the Beast, Jim the jerk followed them and tries to kill Edward. He was going to shoot him-but Kim intercedes. Edward had not planned on doing anything-but when Jim slaps Kim he becomes angry and stabs Jim-throwing him out the window.

Kim and Edward see the dead body and know the mob won’t stop until Edward is dead. Kim kisses Edward and says good-bye.

Noooo!

Downstairs, the people are calling for Edward’s blood. Kim notices a machine and grabs a scissorhand-using it as proof that Edward is dead. She tells them it is all over.

This scene definitely has a Nightmare on Elm Street feel to it with the scissors-which Johnny Depp is also in.

That ends it and all goes back to how it should be-except the Boggs family. Years pass and they all move on-but Kim always remembers Edward.

And Edward never forgets her. His garden growing and he’s making an ice sculpture of Kim to grace his garden.

Such a great story with a gentle sweet character. I love this film and could just continue to watch it over and over again.

And this little extra for you guys!

To start Horrorfest VII from the beginning, go to It’s the End of the World: The Birds (1963)

For the previous post, go to Do You Ever Feel Like Your Life Has Turned into Something You Never Intended?: Nocturnal Animals (2016)

For more Edward Scissorhands, go to I Did It for You: Edward Scissorhands (1990)

For more Tim Burton, go to He’s Married to a Corpse. He Has A Corpse Bride!: Corpse Bride (2005)

For more Vincent Price, go to They’re Coming for Me Now…And Then They’ll Come for You: House on Haunted Hill (1959)

For more Johnny Depp, go to It was a Horseman, a Dead One. Headless: Sleepy Hollow (1999)

For more Winona Ryder, go to 25 Films of Christmas

For more Anthony Michael Hall, go to Don’t You Forget About Me

For more teen monster films, go to I Died for You! I Came Back from the Dead for You! I Love You!: My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

Is Christine the Ultimate Femme Fatale?

As this is Noir November #Noirvember, I thought it was no better time to talk about one of the top classic femme fatale.

I hate Christine, I think she was a horrid little urgh.

wordICan't say Toy Story

And I don’t use that lightly. First we see her all upset at Raul for being rude and condemning Erik

“Why do you condemn a man who you have never seen, whom no one knows about and whom you yourself know nothing?” (pg. 104)

But then she’s like I’m so scared of him. Aaah! She makes him sound evil, even though the story is hardly anything.

She heard this wonderful voice and begs him to teach her.

“From that time onward, the voice and I became great friends.” (pg. 116)

They spend years together as the phantom puts his all into teaching her and helping her. Then one day Christine spots Raoul and tells the phantom all about seeing him. And the voice disappears, Christine is anxious and scared. She knows she is nothing without him, she will shrivel up into a has-been.

The next day the Phantom comes and tells her he has to leave her.

“The voice was there, spoke to me with great sadness and told me plainly that, if I must bestow my heart on earth, there was nothing for the voice to do but go back to heaven.” (pg. 117)

You see, no threats. No harsh words. The Phantom would have simply backed off if she loved another. He would be heartbroken, but that would be the end of it. Except…

“I swore to the voice that you were no more than a brother to me nor ever would be and that my heart was incapable of any earthly love.” (pg. 117)

You see that!!!! You see that!!!

What???!!!

She purposely leads on the Phantom because she just wants to use him. She doesn’t love him, she doesn’t care for him, as she has stated before:

“[to Raoul] And that, dear, first revealed to me that I loved you.”

She knew, but she had a good thing and didn’t want to see it disappear. Now she tells Raoul that she “lied only because she thought she had no chance with Raoul.” But is that even the truth? She already admitted to playing the Phantom, she’s probably playing Raoul too. He’s rich and interested, and now she’s going to play the little helpless victim to catch him.

you're evil

So you know what, I never feel sorry for her. She created this whole mess as she only cared about herself and not what her false declarations did to people. She almost kills hundreds because of her selfishness. I feel bad for the Phantom. Poor guy, who is completely crushed by her. He picked the wrong woman.

Poor guy

And she goes on about being captured by a madman and held prisoner, BUT he treats her well. He respects her as a thing of beauty and doesn’t harm her or touch her. And when she is upset and wants to leave?

“And, when I stood up, Raoul, and told him that I could only despise him if he did not, then and there, give me my liberty…he offered it…” (pg. 125)

See he isn’t a crazy killer or psychotic (yet). He loves her and respects her wishes. She’s the viper, she’s evil as she chooses to stay there.

“For he sang. And I listened…and stayed!” (pg. 125)

Seriously?

So she falls asleep and then wakes up in a whole different room, properly freaked. BUT then spots a note left to her by the Phantom.

“My dear Christine, you need have no concern as to your fate. You have no better nor more respectful friend in the world than myself.” (pg. 126)

Wow

He just let her alone, as he sees her as the kindest and most divine woman; respecting her. He also purchases tons of things for her in order to make the place truly home.

But Christine is not happy. She wants out. She is angry with the Phantom, even though she is packed with beautiful gifts. All she wants is to see his face as “no honest man would wear a mask.” But that is the one place Erik won’t give.

Then Erik mentions how most of her time with him will be musical practice. She is angry as he wants her to stay five days, then he will let her go again as she will either love him (hope) or pity him. But Christine is now upset that he won’t let her go now, but hey he offered you before.

Seriously

The real issue Christine has with the Phantom is his skull-like face. This is what breaks her and makes her horrified and disgusted.She can’t live well enough alone, and asks him to play for her, plotting her deception. When he is too worked up in the music she snatches the mask off. 

She tells Raoul this as each visit “increased her horror.”

Now what’s really interesting is after Christine has told her tale, Raoul asks her:

“You are frightened…but do you love me? If Erik were good-looking, would you love me, Christine?” (pg. 132)

Hmm…

And what does Christine say? Does she say NEVER, I don’t love him I LOVE YOU? No. Does she say that Erik is a horrible person, and she could never love him? No. Now what does she say?

“She rose in her turn, and put her two trembling arms round the young man’s neck and said: ‘Oh my betrothed of a day, if I did not love you, I would not give you my lips! Take them, for the first time and the last.” (pg. 132)

You see that!!! You see that!!! SHE NEVER ANSWERS THE QUESTION!!!! And you know why???!!! Because the answer is NO! She don’t love you Raoul, she’s using you just as she used Erik. She could have easily answered she loved you, but instead she deflected the question and gave you a kiss. I hate when people do that, urgh!

Let me tell you something, if you ever are having a serious and deep conversation with someone and they deflect you with a kiss, hug, sex, whatever, you need to get out of that relationship because they are not serious about you. Should’ve seen it Raoul, except you were to busy focusing on that kiss that you missed it.

Meanwhile, Christine, the little actress starts playing Erik to the areas he has been insecure. She tells him that he is genius, his music causes her to forget his looks. She even burns his mask to symbolize that she is “above” such things. In reality she is playing him  from every angle, earning his trust so that he is willing to believe she actually loves him and won’t harm him. Letting her go.

Christine acts as if he is a true monster, but the Phantom has a compassionate heart. She asks if she can pretend to “be engaged”, playacting, with Raoul and the Phantom agrees.

“He said, ‘I trust you, Christine. M. de Chagny [Raoul] is in love with you and going abraod. Before he goes, I want him to be as happy as I am.” (pg. 134)

How can someone be unfeeling and a loser when they consider what their arch rival’s is feeling?

See Erik isn’t the monster, Christine is! She just goes and destroys two men’s lives-never thinking about them or how it affect them; all she cares is about her self.

Yeah, that’s why I hate Christine Daaé.

For more on The Phantom of the Opera, go to President of the “I Don’t Like Raoul Fanclub”

For more on Christine Daaé, go to Le Fantôme de l’Opéra

For more femme fatales, go to That Girl is Poison

Welcome to a New World of Gods and Monsters: The Mummy (2017)

Welcome to a new world of gods and monsters.

So I love The Mummy (1932)

And The Mummy (1999)

But this one was horrible!

Ugh.

The plot made no sense at all!!!

Help me! I’m confused!

There was no cool Egyptian stuff or history or action at all. It didn’t even take place in Egypt but in England!

And they threw in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and didn’t explain why:

This is pretty much how I felt through the whole film:

It was just horrible from beginning to end, didn’t explain, and I didn’t care about any of the characters. I’d rather watch him:

Or him:

Or her:

Or her:

Any day.

To start Horrorfest VI from the beginning, go to One of Our Guests is a Werewolf, I Know It.: The Beast Must Die (1974)

For the previous post, go to What Do They Want You For? Murder: Silver Streak (1976)

For more mummy films, go to A Modern Mummy: Under Wraps (1997)

For more Tom Cruise, go to Pot o’ Gold: 17 Irish Heroes

For The Mummy (1932), go to Eternal Punishment for Anyone Who Opens This Casket: The Mummy (1932)

For more Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, go to Man-Bat: On Leather Wings, Batman the Animated Series (1992)

For more sucky films, go to Have You Seen Megan Hipwell?: The Girl On the Train (2016)

For more sucky remakes, go to Dracula. Not Myth, Nor Ravings of a Mad Irish Novelist, Oh No, He’s Real: Dracula 2000 (2000)